In August of 2013, I originally wrote out my “Educational Leadership Philosophy.” It is one of the most viewed pages on my site and I often wonder how often is it being viewed by educators or community members?
I wanted to revisit this as we come closer to the end of the school year because a) I think it is a good activity for administrators to partake in to think about what they want to embody in their leadership and b) to see what I think of what I wrote in 2013 as a parent in education. Would “George the dad” be excited to work with “George the principal?”
Now, writing this all down and living it are two different things. But we are more likely to live it if we can see it.
As I read this, there seem to be a few themes that emerge that I still believe in to this day.
A) The importance of giving students opportunities to lead today to better prepare them to lead in the future.
B) Focusing on the strengths of the people I serve.
C) Creating a culture of sharing and transparency, both locally and globally.
D) Including and empowering families to make schools a central part of the community.
These are all things that I believe as an educator and dad.
I updated some of the language below and gave it the “Grammarly” treatment, but the ideas behind what I shared in 2013 are the same. I encourage you to consider creating your own education or educational leadership philosophy. It is not only beneficial for those that you serve to see it, but I think it is something good to come back and revisit ourselves. To ask, “Do I still believe these things?” or more importantly, “Do I still live these things?”
The updated post is below.
As I come into the new school year, I wanted to think about my own “Educational Leadership Philosophy” and put it into words. As I write this down, I love the picture below that reminds me it is not only what we say but what we do that matters.
Education and school have traditionally been the hub of our communities. Not only for the wisdom and knowledge they create for our present and future but also for the connections they create amongst a community. Growing up in a small town, teachers were revered and respected for their work with students. They always made an effort to connect with parents and caregivers to bring them in on their child’s learning process, not just with developing intelligence but also with developing students as people. The notion of “it takes a village” is something that I believe in deeply and is more critical now than ever.
As a leader, I believe in bringing a community together to share leadership in many different avenues. In a quote by Tom Peters, he states that “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” In a school community, this starts at the top in working with others to develop their leadership in every position and level of school. By focusing on an individual’s strengths, you show that you value their expertise first before you look to help them develop in other areas. This strength-based focus helps build a relationship with each individual, pushing them to be better every day. When the leader of an organization has this belief and proves it through actions, it trickles down to students in the classroom. The more experience I have in leadership, the more I see that effective teachers are influential leaders and have this same strength-based approach with their students. If we have a community that focuses on building leadership in all areas, we are more likely to succeed within our vision.
Through this value on developing leadership, our schools are more open to navigating and leading change. As society continues to change, schools need to adapt best to serve our students for their future and their present. Those who are willing to adapt and learn from change now will be the ones most likely to be successful in the future. As we see different jobs created in our world while other jobs are becoming irrelevant, we look to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs in schools. This is often created by instilling a sense of “intrapreneurial spirit” within educators that are always looking to grow and further the organization. While we look and build on what has worked in the past, we must also continuously look forward.
One of those changes in our world is a shift to an open and transparent environment. As an administrator, I have the opportunity to become better by continuously being able to visit classrooms and seeing what the most effective teachers do. Peers do not have this same opportunity because of our physical environment. Using different technologies such as blogging and Twitter, we open up our classrooms to other educators in our schools and schools worldwide to bring them in on this collaboration. As I always focus on “what is best for kids,” it is crucial that we look to help our students and how we can help other students from around the globe. As we tell our students when they walk into our schools, we must ensure that we create a culture of sharing within our community to learn from others around the world and within our community. The most innovative environments outside of school tap into the “wisdom of the room” and bring in different voices to learn and grow continuously; schools must do the same.
To be successful, people must have a purpose within our organization. This included families, who are a tremendous untapped resource within our communities. We can no longer have children going home and being asked, “what did you learn today?” and responding with, “nothing.” By opening the doors to our classrooms through both physical and virtual environments, we have the opportunity to change the conversation at home. Parents and caregivers can be actively involved in the process of learning, leading to a higher chance for the success of each child. The more we can include our families in this process at home, the more likely students will be successful in school and beyond. This community support is imperative.
In summary, by building relationships, developing leadership, and focusing on school as the “hub” of our community, we are more likely to create an environment where our students are building a bright future both today and tomorrow. By looking at what worked in the past while also looking to develop our future, our community is more likely to be able to come together to create the schools our kids need.